Jan Gunnarsson – “Hostmanship: the art of making people feel welcome”

Jan Gunnarsson explains everything about hostmanship at TEDxMaastricht. Not only in hospitality but also in hospitals for example. By the way, some waiters (no names this time, you know who you are) could learn a lot of the loving care and empathy of nurses and other heroes in the hospitals! His book is also very nice to read (review)

“Jan Gunnarsson is a hospitality industry veteran from Sweden who exhibits a refreshing take upon customer service and leadership. Jan believes customer experience is not in the first place about strategies and tactics but about the attitude we bring. Jan talks about how the heart of a business is an attitude of yourself. Hostmanship is the book he wrote with Olle Blohm. Hostmanship really is about giving. It’s about sharing a part of yourself and your knowledge. Jan inspires us by the simple belief that we should never be forgetting that people who have contacted you are an extension of yourself. It is about understanding that, in that moment, you are an important part of her life. Not only because you have the answer to her question, but you are also the person she has chosen to turn to. Jan Gunnarsson will give us a completely new view upon care and upon service in healthcare.”

Best maître d’hôtel of France 2015

Menu card of the concours

In France there is a competition for being the best maître d’hôtel in the country. The maître d’hôtel is the person who runs the restaurant in the diningroom.

Often overshadowed by the chefs in the kitchen, the maître yet has a key role that this contest aims to promote, highlighting the excellence of the knowledge-how specific to the maitre: the kindness of his reception, his ability to put you at ease and guess your expectations, the range of its knowledge throughout the service, attention to detail, elegance and know how tho manage his team. “You have to be a star in everything!”.

The first thing the ten participants have to do is to dress a appetizer buffet in a beautiful, luxery way. “6 guests will enjoy a champagne or other beverage of your choice, which you can promote. This drink should not last more than 30 minutes. Champagne and 5 pieces of appetizers per person are provided.. “. It’s clear that you don’t put 6 plastic cups on a campingtable 🙂

The buffet of the winner
The buffet of the winner

Then they had to make a Crêpe Suzette, something you do normaly near the guests at table with sugar, orange zest and Grand Marnier. This was followed by the third test to see whether the maitre is able to manage a conflict between a chef and a waiter played by two actors, which reveals the ability of diplomacy and conflict management of the candidate.

After a little break, at 8 o’clock the big test started, serving a table of 5 people (of which one is a jurymember). Of course it was not made easy for the candidates with tricky scenarios etc.

The real test begins!

And this was not the end, the next morning there were oral tests about the English language and general knowledge. And that is taken seriously in France, here are big books available with sample questions like:”When was the end of the era of the king after Louis XIII ?” (1715 of course).

After all these tests and examens there can only be one winner! This year Kevin Chambenoit has the honourful title of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France Maître d’hôtel of 2015. Félicitations !!!! He is  F&B director of the Bristol Paris . In this luxery 5 star hotel in Paris there are 6 people working who won this prestigious competition (in different areas in different years).

Funny to know that monsieur Kevin participated in the test in solidarity with four colleagues and to see where he stood. “If you want to be demanding to your teams, you have to be strict with yourself. Lead by example.” How cool! A very interesting and inspiring interview with Kevin Chambenoit can be read here in French and here in Google translated in English

You can read an more extensive article about this competition  here in French and here in English with Google Translate. (in fact this blogpost is an abstract of it)

(Pictures above © http://blog-lesgrandestablesdumonde.com/ – used with permission)

Here another video about the contest

Leadership and Service with the Mouse

(c) Disney

The Company with the Mouse has an own institute for Service and Leadership, the Disney Institute. It’s very funny and nice for me to see some concepts related to my workplace and the terms I use in daily life.

Their blogposts about leadership are well worth reading and their ideas match mines. I liked the blogpost with the checklist to find leaders in the organisation, the fact that everyone is a leader according to Disneys believe and the reason why the parks are so clean. Also the posts about Quality and Service have my big interest ofcourse 🙂 There is so much to read (I just started), but I want to share the H.E.A.R.D. formula for service recovery with you.

(BTW Another nice article at another site about service at Disney)

Service Quality for CrazyWaiters

The regulars on this blog know that I have a passion for Service Quality. Today I had an inspiring talk of Mrs. Quality of the hotel where I work at. Normally I’m not keen on listening to these stories (often they think we’re living in a fairytale where everything is already perfect) but this was a pretty good talk with a lot of passion without closing the eyes for the daily reality. Full of inspiration I collected “everything” I already know in a new presentation 🙂

You can continue with the Service Pyramid, the Alter Ego eg. Mission, vision and values of the CrazyWaiter and the numerous posts in this category.

You can also click here to go the the Crazy Waiter’s Service Quality knowledge base with a lot of articles about this subject!

DINESERVE : How to evaluate a restaurant

A restaurant

I already wrote earlier about the SERVQUAL model. This model has been adapted into a questionaire called DINESERVE to see what guest think of a restaurant  (#/*). There are 29 items, each judged on a scale from 1 to 7. DINESERV items fall into five service quality dimensions. Reliability was found to be the most important dimension, followed by tangibles, assurance, responsiveness, and empathy. After the jump you’ll find the questionaire!

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Maribeth Bisienere on service leadership and lifelong learning

One of the plans in the near future is to create a vision, no… *my* vision on leadership in the hospitality to be able – together with my collegues around me- to create even greater experiences for my guests… this video of a fellow Castmember (although far away and a lot of scales higher – see linkedin) is a very nice start… See a longer (other) presentation about leadership worth seeing from this lady here (read more about her interviews here and here)

The fifth chair

An interesting story about hospitality:

“On this premises I’d like to tell you a little story that occurred to me a short while ago when I was visiting the beautiful city of Trieste with my wife and few friends. (..)

Our research soon produced a typical trattoria owned by an old couple, with 25-30 seats, husband in the kitchen, wife is in the room – and you immediately notice it. The interiors’ decorations, the courteousness were a clear sign of a woman’s touch hence we felt at home the moment we walked in. But something weird caught my attention. Sitting at the rounded table set for four people, I noticed something unusual: five chairs for four people…I couldn’t figure out why was that and when I looked at the rest of the room I was really intrigued since all the tables presented the same layout. That’s not a mistake – I thought – there must be something related to the service.”

Read the whole story at Serving is a supreme art.

Unexpected Acts of Service

Nowadays everybody nows the “random acts of kindness“. Let’s translate that to our business and call it “Unexpected acts of Service”. It’s doing something small that gives joy to the guest (and yourself) so that the service quality experience is higher. And happy guests are returning guests 🙂 It can be very simple.  The secret is looking and listening very careful to verbal and above all non-verbal comunications.  The best thing is when you do the act of course unexpected with a smile and when possible walking away without saying anything like nothing happened.

For your inspiration some examples of UAoS:

  • Bringing a gluten free dessert when the birthdaycake is coming for a girl (*)
  • Looking for some color pencils if you see that those from the guest are broken
  • Bringing some wet towels when people have to shake a lot of hands with a condoleance or wedding
  • Giving a glass of water when you see that someone is very very thirsty
  • Adding some honey if you bring tea to singers
  • Bringing a plate with small cookies if you hear that people are discussing who has to take the last cookie
  • Indicating the way to the toilet if you see someone looking for it
  • Serving grated cheese if you hear a kid complain that there is no cheese on the pasta
  • If you see that a guest (almost) didn’t eat anyting, ask ‘whether you can do something for him’ (never:’something is wrong?’) or even bring another alternative dish unasked (with possible with sit-down dinners)

The management has to create the opportunities for making the UAoS possible, because some acts might cost some time or other resouces. But the added value is immense!

Do you have other examples of UAoS?

How to respond to reviews

I like review sites because it’s a mirror of your own work. Also it’s a great source of finding new restaurants and places which I use a lot. Especially when the company answers because it shows that they care (a bit more) of their guests. My favorite answers are from Hotel Villa Schuler in the beautiful Taormina (Sicily, Italy) at Tripadvisor, especially this one should be in all hotelschool textbooks. I used their answers as inspiration for this article. There are also some answers from EasyHotel Amsterdam.

Now you can also use my Review Response Generator 🙂

Some tips on how to respond. (–>)

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[NL] Knallen in de horeca

There are a lot of television programs about the kitchen (for instance Gordon Ramsey), but finally there’s a program about the waiters and the service side of our job. In this program the employees are trained by Willem Reimers, a man who has a lot of experience in the business.

I really like the fact that there is serious attention for our job. The program is well done. It’s hilarious to see the behaviour at the beginning, filmed with candid cameras. A waiter gave his phonenumber, and another waitress even gossiped about other guests to guests. Of course everything is improved at the end, I hope they can continue this.

I did not see shocking new things for me personally from the training given in the program, but it emphasizes the fact that the management should really give more attention to taste the products we sell. I also realized that being the responsible person on the floor not means that you have to be tight and criticize the others all the time, but above all have to coach them on the path to excellence.

The program is really well done, and I hope this program has a lot of viewers. Not only waiters but also the guest, so they’ll appreciate our job even more! After this when everybody knows how to do it well, a program MasterWaiter (inspired by Masterchef) to show who is the best waiter of the country?

See it yourself at the site of Knallen in de Horeca. (To see the program, click ‘gemist’. Unfortunately it’s in dutch and not subtitled.)

The elements of Service Quality (1)

We’re delivering quality. But what is it? In very short it is the difference between expectation and that what you get. If you get more than expected, the quality is high, and vice versa.

If you ask people about quality you’ll get a lot of words. If you put all the terms which come up  in a box and sort them in groups, you’ll find five groups. Clever people (scientists) speak about dimensions. They are easy to remember with the word RATER

Reliability (26%) Reliability is the ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately. Do we deliver what we promise?
Tangibles (10.8%) Tangibles are the physical facilities, equipment, and appearance of personnel.
Assurance (32.3%) Assurance is guaranteeing the process of performing services
Empathy (10.1%)  The care and personalized service given
Responsiveness (20.8%); With regard to the dimension of responsiveness, the quick problem-solving ability of the service personnel is a good opportunity to impress the consumer

To be noted is that the percentages are valid for hot spring hotels. But my feeling says its the same for restaurants and other businesses. A lot of managers think that the Tanglibles are very important, but they really should take care of the capability of the employees on assurance, reliability and responsiveness.
The term RATER comes from (Parasuraman et al., 1988). The weights of every dimension are from Hsie, 2007

What is a customer (or guest)

A very nice quote to put on the wall somewhere in your backstage. And yes, ofcourse you’ll change the word customer in guest !

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises.
He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.
He is not an interruption of our work. He is the purpose of it.
He is not an outsider of our business. He is part of it.
We are not doing him a favour by serving him.
He is doing us a favour by giving us the opportunity to do so

Mahatma Ghandi (in a speech in South Africa in 1890)

B = C x O x M

Most readers know that I like reading about scientific research, but a lot of knowledge can be explained very easy. Today we have the formula

Behaviour = capacity x opportunity x motivation

  • Behaviour is what people do, or what you want them to do
  • Capacity is what people can do. You can give trainings for that. But never forget that you also have to work on the other two factors in the model!
  • Opportunity is what people are able to do. The management has to create enough (human!) resources, good conditions, tools and materials to make the work possible
  • Motivation is what people want to do. I start to believe that most people are motivated, but are demotivated by the management. Motivation can be stimulated, however by (1) making clear what’s in it for them, (2) being involved, (3) providing rewards, (4) giving feedback and (5) stepping into the other person’s shoes.(*)

The formula is originally from Lilian Ripple (Chicago) in her 1955 paperMotivation, Capacity, and Opportunity as Related to the Use of Casework Service: Theoretical Base and Plan of Study.” . The image is taken here.

100 skills every Crazy Waiter should know (part 1)

Inspired by this list our own list! Take it as serious as you think it should be! How many points do you have?

  1. Holding 3 plates with food in 1 hand and one in the other (1 point)
  2. Taking orders in 3 langues (1 point)
  3. Taking orders in 4,5 or 6 languages (2, 3 or 4 points)
  4. Handling complaints (2 points)
  5. Inventing your own lyrics on existing songs (1 point)
  6. Singing a song with a random word (1 point)
  7. Flirting with beautiful young (not too young though) Italian girls (1 point)
  8. Flirting with ugly old woman (3 points)
  9. Pre-bussying (clearing) a whole table of four in one time (2 points)
  10. Stop young children who cry and if possible make them smile every time you pass (2 points)
  11. Opening a wine bottle with a opener (1 points)
  12. Changing a beerfust (1 point)
  13. Serving the plates together with a collegue in a synchronized way (2 points)
  14. Make a Margherita (2 points)
  15. Knowing the difference between the production of red and white wine (1 points)
  16. Knowing the difference between sparkling and not sparking wine (2 points)
  17. Influencing the hostess, so you get the best tables (1 points)
  18. Influencing the hostess so you won’t get the latest tables so you can see your ‘girl friend’ (2 points)
  19. Debrassing 10 plates in one time (2 points)
  20. Cleaning invisible the knives while they are already on the table (2 points)

(the other 80 skills will follow in part 2, 3 4 and 5)